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Posted: 11/16/2003 1:22:32 PM EDT

Updated: 02:41 PM EST
Missing Iraq War Veteran Turns Up Slain
By RUSS BYNUM, AP

COLUMBUS, Ga. (Nov. 16) - The body was almost a skeleton when investigators found it, hidden in the woods for nearly four months and so decomposed that knife marks etched in its bones were the only way to tell the man had been stabbed.

Spc. Richard Davis had survived the war in Iraq, where he turned 25 during the march to Baghdad, only to be slain after celebrating his homecoming at a topless bar near Fort Benning.

With the discovery of his body earlier this month came a even more disturbing twist. The four men accused of turning on him with fists and a blade, then hiding his body, had served beside him in the same infantry unit in the blazing desert sands, facing Iraqi bullets and rocket-propelled grenades.

Now the Army is on the defensive, accused by Davis' family of writing him off as AWOL instead of quickly investigating his disappearance.

Some people are also questioning the investigators' conclusion that the killing was simply the result of a brawl gone bad, wondering if trauma from the battlefield could have led to bloodshed at home.

"All of the evidence says there was no bad blood" between the soldiers, said Mark Shelnutt, a defense attorney for Pfc. Douglas Woodcoff, one of the accused men. "They've all been to Iraq, they want to have a few drinks. ... You can't help but wonder. If this had happened a week before they deployed, would the result have been the same?"

Davis returned from the Middle East on July 12 from his second deployment since May 2002. His unit - 1st Battalion, 15 Infantry Regiment of the Army's 3rd Infantry Division - had spent most of the past 14 months in the region training, fighting and waiting to go home.

Davis never called his parents to tell them he was back. He had no wife or girlfriend in Columbus. So he piled into a car with four other soldiers from his company for a night out to celebrate.

They headed to the Platinum Club, a topless bar.

At some point, Davis apparently insulted one of the dancers and the soldiers were kicked out, said Lt. Steve Cox of the Columbus Police Department.

Davis's fellow soldiers later told police they were upset about it and started brawling with Davis in the parking lot. They left and drove about three miles before Pfc. Alberto Martinez pulled the car over.

Two of the men, Pvt. Jacob Burgoyne and Pfc. Mario Navarrete, got out and continued their fightfight with Davis. They told police that Woodcoff watched without joining in.

Then, they said, Martinez pulled a knife and stabbed Davis several times.

The four soldiers drove to a convenience store and bought lighter fluid. Then they returned to the bloodied corpse, tried to burn it and left it in the woods.

The account of the deadly brawl came from Burgoyne, Navarrete and Woodcoff in police interviews following their Nov. 8 arrest, the day after Davis' body was found.

Police don't believe the soldiers' combat experiences were a factor in the killing. Only two slayings have been linked to the 16,500 3rd Infantry soldiers who deployed to Iraq from Fort Benning and Fort Stewart, near Savannah.

"There are murders committed every day, and most murders are committed by people who know you," Cox said. "We see best friends killing each other all the time - civilians, military, all walks of life."

Davis' father doesn't buy that argument. He's not sure why his son was slain but insists it wasn't a simple, perhaps drunken, argument.

"You don't go out and stab a guy and set his body on fire after you beat him half to death because you got kicked out of a bar," Lanny Davis said. "You don't go out and kill your buddies. There was something else that happened."

Lanny Davis didn't find out his son was back in the United States until a soldier from Fort Benning called him in Missouri to ask if he was home yet.

He traveled to Fort Benning a month later to ask about his son. The Army had listed him as AWOL, absent without leave, though he'd left his toothbrush and new clothes in his barracks.

Fort Benning didn't investigate Davis' disappearance until the fall, after Lanny Davis sought help from his congressman, Rep. Kenny Hulshof, R-Mo.

Col. Steven Salazar, brigade commander for the 3rd Infantry at Fort Benning, said Thursday that the Army "followed all procedures necessary ... and even took additional measures" to find out what happened to Davis. After discovering his death, the Army reinstated Davis' active-duty status so his parents could receive his death benefits.

But the slain soldier's father remains angry.

"I've been screaming ever since that lieutenant colonel came and told me they found my son's skeletal remains," Lanny Davis said. "We don't even have the chance to see my son's face ever again."

Investigators have yet to hear the story from Martinez, 23, who is awaiting extradition from California on murder charges.

A judge last week reduced the charges against Burgoyne of Middleburg, Fla., Navarrete of San Juan, Texas, and Woodcoff of San Antonio, Texas, all 24, from murder to a concealing a death, a felony, though District Attorney Gray Conger said he may still seek murder indictments.

Lanny Davis said brawls were what his son hoped to escape when he joined the Army after high school, where he had endured teasing, name-calling and fights because he was half-Filipino.

"He liked the military because he felt somewhat secure there," Lanny Davis said.


11/16/03 13:11 EST

Copyright 2003 The Associated Press. The information contained in the AP news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press. All active hyperlinks have been inserted by AOL.

Link Posted: 11/16/2003 1:34:01 PM EDT
Damn, that is terrible.



-HS
Link Posted: 11/16/2003 9:26:22 PM EDT
Link Posted: 11/16/2003 9:32:30 PM EDT
I wouldn't rule out drugs either.
Link Posted: 11/16/2003 10:18:28 PM EDT
What gets me is, the Army didn't seem to try very hard to look for this guy. Is that normal? To NOT try and find people who are AWOL?
Link Posted: 11/16/2003 10:39:22 PM EDT
There's got to be more to the story. Maybe they all knew something, and in a drunken rage Davis threatened to tell on them all.
Link Posted: 11/16/2003 11:07:40 PM EDT
Did any of you see Basic?
Link Posted: 11/17/2003 2:02:23 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 11/17/2003 4:23:30 AM EDT by The_Beer_Slayer]
Please check your IM

1.) Respect your fellow gun owners by not posting derogatory comments of a racial, religious or sexual nature. This includes your username and signature line. Site Staff and Moderators reserve the right to edit signature lines and posts that contain references, pictures or links to nudity, pornography,women wearing bikini's,halter tops,wet t-shirts,short shorts,thongs,flags,body painting,etc, animal cruelty, racism, sexism, etc.
Link Posted: 11/17/2003 3:08:24 AM EDT
Link Posted: 11/17/2003 3:27:42 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 11/17/2003 4:26:31 AM EDT by The_Beer_Slayer]
Edited out persoanl attack
Link Posted: 11/17/2003 9:07:06 AM EDT

Originally Posted By mattja:
Please check your IM

1.) Respect your fellow gun owners by not posting derogatory comments of a racial, religious or sexual nature. This includes your username and signature line. Site Staff and Moderators reserve the right to edit signature lines and posts that contain references, pictures or links to nudity, pornography,women wearing bikini's,halter tops,wet t-shirts,short shorts,thongs,flags,body painting,etc, animal cruelty, racism, sexism, etc.



What did I miss?
Link Posted: 11/17/2003 9:27:19 AM EDT
This, and the murder arrests of two twenty-nine palms Marines last week, are the predictable result of relaxed recruiting standards.

You can not recruit gang members, drug users, and high school dropouts and expect to turn them into quality professional soldiers. For ever 1 that you can "train" there will be 99 that you cant. Those 99 losers outweight the positive of the one guy you turned around.

Military recruiters should insist on an actual high school diploma, no evidence of gang activity, no "hard" drug use, and no misdemeanor or felony convictions.
Link Posted: 11/17/2003 11:35:54 AM EDT
People who live near large numbers of Mexicans know what I said is true. The PC police be damned.
Link Posted: 11/17/2003 11:57:30 AM EDT

Originally Posted By ArmdLbrl:
What gets me is, the Army didn't seem to try very hard to look for this guy. Is that normal? To NOT try and find people who are AWOL?



No they don't. None of the services do. Once the service member has been gone for more then 30 days, they are listed as a deserter and the information is placed into the national data bases. They are normaly "caught" because of some minor infraction like speeding, rolling through a stop sign, or they may even get caught by requesting social services like unemployment.

If they do get caught, they are delivered back to the military and the UCMJ takes over from there.
Link Posted: 11/17/2003 12:16:33 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 11/17/2003 12:17:19 PM EDT by ArmdLbrl]
If they don't look, how do they know that the poor guy is not lying in a gutter somewhere, or a John Doe in a hospital or morgue some where. Or kidnapped.
Link Posted: 11/17/2003 12:36:45 PM EDT
Link Posted: 11/17/2003 12:46:54 PM EDT
Wow, that's really horrible. It really makes a person wonder, too. Did something happen between the supposed friends while in Iraq that we haven't found out here?

Like the article said, it sounds like alot more than a drunken brawl between friends gone bad.
Link Posted: 11/17/2003 12:59:59 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Troy:
I think you are underestimating (or overlooking) the cost of investigating a couple thousand deserters per year...

-Troy



It must be more than a couple thousand who go missing a year if its that expensive.
Link Posted: 11/17/2003 1:08:38 PM EDT

Originally Posted By ArmdLbrl:
If they don't look, how do they know that the poor guy is not lying in a gutter somewhere, or a John Doe in a hospital or morgue some where. Or kidnapped.



In 99.9% of all UA/AWOL cases, the offending service member telegraphs their intentions way in advance. Most service members who commit an Article 86 violation are on their 1st enlistment, and living with several roommates in the barracks, and these roommates almost always know what each other are doing off duty. It is very easy for their SNCO to determine the probability/possibility of accidental or purposeful absence.

If one of my Marines was UA, I would send one of my NCO's over to the barracks to search the room. I would also contact the SNCOIC of their roommates to see if they had any idea of their whereabouts if my NCO came back from the barracks empty handed. If we found them, I had several tools at my disposal to correct the deficiency. If not, I would report the incident on my morning report and turn it over to the Head Shed. At that point it is out of my hands and I lead my Marines on our assigned mission. From there it would work it's way to the CO/XO and go to NIS for investigation.
Link Posted: 11/17/2003 1:38:05 PM EDT

Originally Posted By DPeacher:

Originally Posted By ArmdLbrl:
If they don't look, how do they know that the poor guy is not lying in a gutter somewhere, or a John Doe in a hospital or morgue some where. Or kidnapped.



In 99.9% of all UA/AWOL cases, the offending service member telegraphs their intentions way in advance. Most service members who commit an Article 86 violation are on their 1st enlistment, and living with several roommates in the barracks, and these roommates almost always know what each other are doing off duty. It is very easy for their SNCO to determine the probability/possibility of accidental or purposeful absence.

If one of my Marines was UA, I would send one of my NCO's over to the barracks to search the room. I would also contact the SNCOIC of their roommates to see if they had any idea of their whereabouts if my NCO came back from the barracks empty handed. If we found them, I had several tools at my disposal to correct the deficiency. If not, I would report the incident on my morning report and turn it over to the Head Shed. At that point it is out of my hands and I lead my Marines on our assigned mission. From there it would work it's way to the CO/XO and go to NIS for investigation.



So in this case, because the 4 guys indited for killing him WERE his roommates they probably made up some story to lead their NCO to belive that he had gone AWOL, and that is why their was no investigation till the body was found?

But if those same men had gone to their Senior NCO and said, "Look we were out with so and so last night, and we got into a fight and he walked out on us, when we left the place later we couldn't find him and now its X hours later and he hasn't shown up for duty on time and he has never done that before". Would statements like that get the case more attention? Cause a red flag that someone was NOT just AWOL?
Link Posted: 11/18/2003 7:46:24 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 11/18/2003 7:47:45 AM EDT by DPeacher]

Originally Posted By ArmdLbrl:

So in this case, because the 4 guys indited for killing him WERE his roommates they probably made up some story to lead their NCO to belive that he had gone AWOL, and that is why their was no investigation till the body was found?



That is quite possible. But since you and I were not there, it would be foolish for us to speculate. Also remember that the body was found by "investigators", which indicates someone with authority went looking for it....No commander in their right mind would tell someones family that their son was AWOL for 2 days and presumed to be a murder victim.


But if those same men had gone to their Senior NCO and said, "Look we were out with so and so last night, and we got into a fight and he walked out on us, when we left the place later we couldn't find him and now its X hours later and he hasn't shown up for duty on time and he has never done that before". Would statements like that get the case more attention? Cause a red flag that someone was NOT just AWOL?


Of course there would be a red flag and the command would take appropriate action. In this case, there appears to have been several red flags because there were "investigators" involved.
Link Posted: 11/18/2003 10:28:17 AM EDT

Originally Posted By mattja:
People who live near large numbers of Mexicans know what I said is true. The PC police be damned.



Oh yea? Well I stand by my reply to you too!!
Once a tool always a tool! Thanks for proving my point.
Link Posted: 11/18/2003 12:25:36 PM EDT

Originally Posted By AZMAN-1:

Originally Posted By mattja:
People who live near large numbers of Mexicans know what I said is true. The PC police be damned.



Oh yea? Well I stand by my reply to you too!!
Once a tool always a tool! Thanks for proving my point.



Well that's swell Aztlanman-1, but the mods removed it before I ever saw it.

But given your protests, I assume my comment hit home with you, which just reinforces my point even more.
Link Posted: 11/18/2003 3:03:58 PM EDT

Originally Posted By DPeacher:

Originally Posted By ArmdLbrl:

So in this case, because the 4 guys indited for killing him WERE his roommates they probably made up some story to lead their NCO to belive that he had gone AWOL, and that is why their was no investigation till the body was found?



That is quite possible. But since you and I were not there, it would be foolish for us to speculate. Also remember that the body was found by "investigators", which indicates someone with authority went looking for it....No commander in their right mind would tell someones family that their son was AWOL for 2 days and presumed to be a murder victim.


But if those same men had gone to their Senior NCO and said, "Look we were out with so and so last night, and we got into a fight and he walked out on us, when we left the place later we couldn't find him and now its X hours later and he hasn't shown up for duty on time and he has never done that before". Would statements like that get the case more attention? Cause a red flag that someone was NOT just AWOL?


Of course there would be a red flag and the command would take appropriate action. In this case, there appears to have been several red flags because there were "investigators" involved.



Ok, I was just wondering where the dividing line was and how they would tell one kind of case apart from the other.
Link Posted: 11/18/2003 3:29:20 PM EDT
Murder in the military is there you must be always on guard.You are with men who have killed and will kill.In my tour I have heard and read about various crimes from rape to murder.I have been lucky a few times.They should have been more careful in investigating this case look at service records and people who knew him.I'm just happy the parents have some closure because they might not of ever found him.It is truly sad when this happens hopefully the will all tell the truth but if the commited a war crime they will never talk for more prison time.I think the military has the death penalty and should use it.....
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